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The Source: Announced Methane Goals Impact Environment And Industry

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Last week, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and President Obama told the world that the two nations were aligned on fighting climate change, singling out methane emissions in oil and gas fields as a priority. 

"We're really excited by that announcement," says Mario Bravo the Texas air quality expert for the Environmental Defense Fund. "Right now methane is responsible for about 25 percent of today's global warming, so cutting these emissions is one of the fastest and cost effective ways to reduce our impact on the climate," says Bravo

Methane in the fracking and energy development fields have drawn the concern of many regulators and environmental advocates who say drillers are cutting corners leading to large leaks of the greenhouse gas, which when properly captured can be brought to market. The push to get more valuable petroleum to the market, and the lack of proper pipelines, the Eagle Ford Shale is ripe for bad actors. 

The EPA has implemented multiple regulations to stymie climate changing pollution from escaping these oil wells. Last year, the agency raised the standards on new wells coming on line to deal with methane.  New regulations would likely target older wells, and have a goal of lowering methane emissions from oil and gas by 40-45 percent below 2012 levels.

"It's unclear what that technology would be and how it would work and how cost effective it would be," says Howard Feldman with the American Petroleum Institute.  Feldman and the API believe that the regulations are not necessary. "Emissions are already down. Since 2005, emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells are down 79 percent," says Feldman.

What are the impacts to the communities where leaks are going on? What will happen to an already battered domestic oil industry?

Guests:

  • Mario Bravo, Texas Air Quality expert for the Environmental Defense Fund
  • Howard Feldman, Senior Director fo Regulatory and Scientific Affairs for the American Petroleum Institute
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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive